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Sports Psychology, Hitting Slumps And The Cleveland Indians: What Can Be Done?

Posted by: Dr. Granat on July 21, 2008

   Here is a link to an article where I was quoted.

Can the Indians' bats be revived? We ask, and get plenty of answers

Posted by From staff reports June 12, 2008 21:00PM

Categories: Impact, Indians

The Indians are ready to send out an S-O-S: Save Our Season.

They can't seem to make the key hit at key times. They own the lowest team batting average in the American League at .242. Catcher Victor Martinez, now on the disabled list, has hit as many home runs as ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia -- zero.

Of course, Tribe fans want to help, so we contacted some former Indians and other bat experts who have ideas on how the team can snap out of its grand funk:

Former Indians pitcher Len Barker believes doing the little things well at the plate will spark the Indians' lineup.

Len Barker, former IndianBarker, 52, played in the majors from 1976 to 1987, including a stint with the Tribe from 1979 to 1983. He is noted for the perfect game he pitched for the Indians against Toronto in 1981. He lives in Chardon.

"I've never seen a whole team in such a hitting slump," he said. "Sometimes it helps to take a couple days off. Sometimes it takes one guy. Like Casey Blake [whose two home runs and seven RBI helped beat Texas a week ago]. Wedge can't hit for those guys.

"You've got to manufacture runs. Got to give yourself up more. Not too many guys know how to sacrifice bunt anymore or hit to right field to advance the runner. They are all pressing.

"Everyone thought Detroit was the cream of the crop and they aren't hitting. One of those teams in the division is going to get going. We're lucky. We've got a lot of good players."

Hanging in and being relentless in your efforts to break out of the slump is Joe Charboneau's advice, even though the 1980 AL Rookie of the Year regrets not getting that chance when his bat went cold in 1981.

Joe Charboneau, former IndianCharboneau, 52, was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1980, when he hit .289 for the Tribe with 23 homers and 87 RBI. He hit .210 and .214 the next two seasons with Cleveland and was out of the majors after the 1982 season. He lives in North Ridgeville.

"I'm sure they are trying everything," Charboneau said. "The frustrating thing is they are all struggling at the same time. When that happens, it compounds things. Usually there are three or four guys hitting, so you score some runs.

"Even pitching does that. When the starting pitcher comes out, the bullpen comes in and wants to hold it. With hitting, a guy is on second base, you don't want to strike out, because you want to pick up the team.

"Every team has a big winning streak and a big losing streak. That's one good thing to look forward to. But you don't want to get too far behind by the All-Star break.

"In the minor leagues, I plugged through it. In the big leagues, they sat me down when I didn't get a hit for a couple days. I didn't get to work through it. You've got to get a walk here and there. An RBI. A cheap hit will get you out of it. It's total frustration.

"I'd key on myself so much, I'd lose focus about the game. The game was tough enough and I'd make it more difficult. Who knows? I'm sure they have tried everything."

Jay Granat, psychotherapist

Granat is author of "101 Ways to Break a Hitting Slump with Sports Psychology Techniques."

The two-CD set is available for $79.95 at and includes a money-back guarantee if not satisfied and returned in 30 days.

"Sometimes with athletes at that level, it's something very subtle that will turn things around," he said. "What I usually do is I will change one thing, something perhaps in their dugout, in the on-deck circle, maybe just before they get into the box.

"Team hitting slumps can be contagious, like a virus. Baseball players are connected to one another and poor performances can move throughout the squad, at times. In some instances, I help players to feel less connected to their teammates, so they can separate themselves from the slump.

"I interviewed [Albert] Pujols recently, he's clearly one of the best hitters. He has a very simple approach. He said he looks for a ball he can hit into the gaps. What a great idea. He's looking for a ball in the right spot of the plate.

"If you want me to come and speak to the Indians, I will . . . even though I'm a Yankees fan."

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